11 October 2018

Nigeria: Lawmakers to Aides - Protest Over Unpaid Allowances Uncalled for

National Assembly Complex

Members of the National Assembly on Thursday said they were committed to the welfare of their legislative aides.

Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Abdulrazak Namdas, gave the assurance at a news conference in reaction to the protest staged by the National Assembly Legislative Aides Forum (NASSLAF) in Abuja.

Members of the NASSLAF, the umbrella body of about 3, 200 staff, who work for the lawmakers, had protested over nonpayment of their accumulated allowances.

The aggrieved workers, who welcomed the lawmakers back from their annual vacation with the protest, insisted that the struggle would continue until their demands were met.

Mr Namdas, while addressing journalists, said the protest was uncalled for.

He, however, acknowledged that their aides had been giving them the needed support.

He, however, explained that the protesters were not fighting a just course.

"What we are saying here is that we agree they are doing a good job for us but when you go to the extent of staging a protest as if it is a right that your Duty Tour Allowance ( DTA) must be paid as a matter of fact, then it is not true and that cannot hold.

"But I think we should work as a team, we should not be combative. We should understand one another. There is no point seeing ourselves as if we are adversaries.

"We don't want to look as if we are irresponsible or that we have not taken good care of our own aides that are really working for us," he said.

According to him, if there is need for their welfare to be catered for, we should be in the position to also push for it.

He said the lawmakers would not have brought people to work with them without looking after their welfare.

"If it is the matter that we should sit with the management to see to the plights of our aides, it is understandable.

"But if you are talking in the context of you have the right, then it is not going to be so because nobody takes DTA in his own house," he said.

According to him, "you have to earn your DTA; you have to travel.

"We have witnessed series of protests and we have to put the record straight.

"We want to say that DTA is normally paid when you travel.

"As a legislator, I will not be paid if I don't travel. That is why it is called Duty Tour Allowance.

"However, for the smooth understanding between us and our aides who have been helping us, I think the National Assembly has been trying to see that once there are funds, they can be able to assist our aides.

"So I think it is very important that we put that to rest. The DTA issue should not create a problem."

The House spokesperson also said that the allegation on training allowance and procurement of laptops, which they alleged had been kept in the store for about three years, was untrue.

Mr Namdas, who read part of the engagement terms of the aides, said any appointment letter usually states the nature of allowances attached to it.

According to him, the appointment of aides is non-pensionable and for short term.

"And in the appointment letter, there is nowhere the extant rules have stated clearly that these are the types of allowances you are supposed to get.

"So if it is a matter of privilege, we can understand.

"Therefore, we want to plead with our aides that we should continue with the good, harmonious relationship," he said.

(NAN)

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